It's the beginning of the semester and you have set goals to get started early on class assignments and study for tests. BUT, you find as the weeks go on that you begin avoiding getting started. Then in a flurry of activity, sleep-deprivation, and stress, you get overwhelmed and hand in a lower-quality product or miss deadlines. Does this sound like you? Check out some common reasons why students procrastinate to help you begin overcoming these habits.
Common Causes of Procrastination
Being Overextended – You have too many obligations or duties on your plate.
Tip: Learn how to say no and define your boundaries clearly.
Perfectionism – Are fears of doing a less than perfect job keeping you from being productive? Setting unreachable standards may discourage you. You may also experience fear of evaluation: being highly concerned with how others will judge your performance.
Tip: Remember that perfection is not real! Strive for high quality work, but not perfection.
Fear of the Unknown or Lack of Training – Not having prior experience often makes you overly concerned with how well you may or may not do, so you avoid it completely. Likewise, having vague, ambiguous and unclear directions may make it difficult for you to get started, especially if you work well with structure.
Tip: Talk to your professor or TA for clarification. You can also visit Academic Success Center for help.
Underestimation/Overestimation – Assumptions that lead you to underestimate the amount of time to complete tasks and overestimate the difficulty of getting it done.
Tip: Break the project into its steps and get a clearer picture of how long it will take to complete.
Disorganization – Are you focusing on what is urgent or what is important? Many procrastinators fall to the "tyranny of the urgent," especially once tasks have begun to build up.
Tip: Pick an organization system that you can maintain with your phone, planner, or another device. Daily and weekly to-do lists can help you stay focused too. Just remember: your system needs to be functional, not perfect!
Avoiding a Negative Experience – You dread taking any steps toward what needs done because the topic or focus is not interesting or boring.
Tip: Sometimes classes or projects will be boring but they still have to get done. Decide on a reward for yourself when you get it done.